Photo: Sara Siestreem, Cobalt For Migration, oil, graphite on paper, 2012, courtesy of Augen Gallery, Portland, copyright the artist.

Sara Siestreem: Ballast

September 6 2013 - February 20 2014

MAM is honored to host this exhibition of paintings by Portland, Oregon artist Sara Siestreem. Siestreem creates abstract paintings through a process that incorporates color field painting, automatic drawing, and incorporation of symbology. While these approaches may overlap, the consistency she achieves is remarkable, producing one resolved composition after another. The over 20 abstract works selected for her first solo museum exhibition reflect a maturity that has drawn attention to her career.

The arts are practiced and appreciated by all members of Siestreem’s family and are an everyday part of family life. This family sharing has deeply influenced her as she describes the different work that her parents, grandparents, and aunts have shared and whose practice has inspired her. She acknowledges this creative imprinting as a “gift”, however, Siestreem’s work has a uniqueness to it that is all her own. Her background, instincts, and knowledge paired with the act of painting and savvy titles work together to create her unique language.

Siestreem’s approach is based on the observation of nature. Through observation, the artist realizes the interconnectedness of nature and expression through patterns and repetition. She states, “My painting practice is a meditation, focused on memory and reserves of calm and quiet. My intention for the viewer is that the paintings are vehicles for transportation into and out of themselves. My hope is that in the same way, we as animals receive an energetic charge from witnessing the land or other animals or any type of event, so will these collections of my own process be able to affect the viewer.”


Siestreem received a BA from Portland State University and an MFA from Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, NY and is represented by the Augen Gallery in Portland, OR. Siestreem is from the Pacific Northwest and is an enrolled member of the Coos Tribe of the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Suislaw Indians. The exhibition is hosted in the Lynda M. Frost Contemporary American Indian Art Gallery, a gallery dedicated to honoring the creative cultural contributions of American Indian people to contemporary art, and to ensure that Indian artists will always have a place to celebrate that contribution.

The exhibition is supported through the generosity of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. MAM would also like to thank the artist and the Augen Gallery who have worked diligently to assemble this exhibition.